Athletics: Great participation in the parkrun; Whanganui Athletes Prepare for North Island Colgate Games

Brian Dunn finishes first at the Whanganui New Years parkrun. Photo / Supplied

It was the start of the New Year for 32 runners from Whanganui as they gathered on the bank of the Whanganui River at 8 a.m. on New Years Day.

Under the traffic light system, Whanganui had just gone orange, allowing the first parkrun to be held since the August lockdown.

It was nice that after such a long interval, early on the first day of the year and during the holidays, the response had been so good. After the first lockdown, it took a few weeks to regain momentum for the weekly event.

It was only fitting that Brian Dunn was the first to finish. Dunn has run 179 times at parkrun, including 22 on the Whanganui Riverbank. Dunn regularly races for Wanganui Harriers and has volunteered at parkrun more than 50 times. His wife, Nuala, made it a family affair as the first woman to finish.

Four young Whanganui Athletics athletes are having a competitive start to the weekend as they compete in the North Island Colgate Games, which, after some uncertainty, may proceed under other traffic light protocols.

Nate Burke is the oldest of our four and will be starting in both the 400m and 800m in grade 14. Maio Cruz, who was on the podium last year, starts in grade 11 in the 100m, 200m, high jump and long jump. Harlynn Faailili is in grade 9 60m, 100m and 200m sprints and long jump, while regular club Brian Wilson is in para discus, shooting, 100m and 200m and will join the more than 1,000 entries from 70 clubs across North Island at the annual event, now in its fifth decade.

The New Year is always a time of reflection and also of anticipation and excitement for the challenges that lie ahead. We can all look back on a difficult year and hope that things will turn out better in 2022. Athletes, like many of us, have had our disappointments, especially among the Under-18s the cancellation of their track and field championships. New Zealand in March and New Zealand schools. in December.

A former athlete reminds me every Friday that when he was running they did not have such championships and had to fend for themselves and focus on clubs and local competitions. I was impressed with the positive way the young athletes responded and that’s exactly what I did. There was a real buzz during the weekly club nights on Tuesday and during the three regional meetings held in October, November and early December.

Within my own group personal bests have been set 110 times in the first few weeks of this season. The year ended, as reported a fortnight ago, with the exciting announcement that three Whanganui High School hurdlers – Maggie Jones, Nat Kirk and Flynn Johnston – had won the selection for the track and field team. New Zealand schools for the Classic series and will be in action wearing the New Zealand jersey at our first major home event of 2022, the Pak’nSave Cooks Classic, on Sunday, January 30.

January 27 marks the 60th anniversary of Peter Snell’s Mile World Record at Cooks Gardens. The record not only cemented the site as part of New Zealand athletic history, but became the first of 69 miles under 4 minutes traveled at this iconic site, more than any other track in New Zealand. -Zeeland. He was also the catalyst for a series of big meetings at Cooks Gardens at the end of January with the latest version of the Cooks Classic. This year is the 22nd Cooks Classic in a series that began in 2001.

Last year saw the return of the mile to Cooks Gardens as a New Zealand Track and Field Championship event after a 52-year gap. Sam Tanner’s victory in 3: 54.97 was the 66th under 4 miles on the site and went straight to 9th on Cooks Gardens’ all-time list with Oli Chignell of Otago in fourth becoming 69th in running in under 4 minutes and winning an under-coveted. 4 Presentation Cap.

The New Zealand Mile Championship is once again the flagship event of an action-packed two-hour program that brings together the cream of New Zealand track athletes at this iconic venue. The Cooks Classic is one of the meetings approved by the Oceania Athletics Association of World Athletics. Athletes will compete for world ranking points as well as generous prizes and bonuses for breaking one of the stadium’s impressive records.

The New Zealand Schools team athletes will not only feature in the 3000m Under-20s on the program, but will add youthful excellence and depth to other areas of how the athletes of the Young Olympians camp added an extra dimension to the Cooks Classic at the turn of the millennium.

Naomi C. Amerson